Hitchin Ladies Rugby Club naked calendars go viral as team explain it's empowering feminist statement to raise awareness of women's game

PUBLISHED: 14:46 10 November 2016 | UPDATED: 14:46 10 November 2016

Hitchin Ladies Rugby Club's naked calendar went viral after the Comet broke the story.

Hitchin Ladies Rugby Club's naked calendar went viral after the Comet broke the story.

Archant

A Comet exclusive story became a global internet sensation this week.

Our tale about Hitchin Ladies Rugby team posing nude for a 2017 calendar was picked up by the national press after it was published.

It was then played out to millions of people over social media platforms and across the internet as the story made the team famous across the globe.

Thanks to our original story the club, which is based on Old Hale Way, has now shipped the calendars to 11 countries across three continents.

Such was the response stemming from our article that they have had to reorder more copies of the saucy calendar – which is all done in the best possible taste.

Team member Claire Crompton spoke about the phenomenal interest they have received: “It seems every time I open Facebook we have been featured on another page or shared by international rugby players.

“We’ve been in the national press and featured in papers across Europe and have shipped calendars to Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Germany, USA, Czech Republic, and Crete.”

Although there haven’t been reports of players being stopped in Market Place and asked for autographs just yet – friends, families, old university pals and former workmates have been in touch with the girls to congratulate them after seeing them online.

Claire added: “None of us expected this to happen and we’re still in a state of shock and disbelief. It doesn’t feel real and we still get excited every time we appear somewhere new.

“Yesterday I went into the post office with an armful of A4 envelopes and was immediately asked if they were the naked calendars.

“One girl has gained the nickname J-Lo at work as she now has a famous bottom!”

Predictably there has also been lots of joking with men’s rugby teams, with some of the weekend’s opposition asking if Hitchin Ladies would be there to sign calendars. On the whole the response has been extremely positive but there have been a few derogatory comments on social media.

However the girls are adamant the pictures are empowering to women.

Another Hitchin Ladies player Sarah Bolter explained: “If you had asked me a year ago to take part in a naked calendar my response would have been a firm ‘no’. I almost didn’t play rugby because I was terrified at the thought of communal showers.

“But playing rugby has really helped me to find confidence in my own body.

“Within a rugby team people are all different shapes and sizes and to see the way my team mates are so confident within themselves has really helped my self-confidence both on and off the pitch.”

“It was quite shocking to see myself naked on various websites – but it’s been a worthwhile experience, as we’ve managed to raise money for the club as well as get people talking about women’s rugby.”

Passionate Claire added: “With regards to the very few negative comments online – we are raising money. Very successfully. And showing women’s rugby is for all shapes and sizes.

“Is it not refreshing to see natural real women’s bodies in the press to show young girls that they don’t have to be a size six to be attractive?

“The calendar is light-hearted and was never intended to go further than our little town.

“The majority of the negativity has just amused us. My particular favourite was one that said we would all be pregnant by the end of the season. Others have suggested we are porn stars.

“I happen to think the photographs are tasteful and artistic. They aren’t overtly sexual.

“To those who say it’s anti-feminist – surely the point of feminism is our bodies belong to us and it’s our decision what to do with them.

“We aren’t doing this for men, or because men have told us to. We’re doing it to raise money and because we decided to.”

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